We've had a number of things happen recently, that have had a rather major impact on us. The as yet unresolved computer problem is one to be sure, but something else has happened which has been even worse.
One of our dreams is to pay off our mortgage. It's our only debt and we would love to be debt free. Currently we are able to pay down on the principal, but the realities of Dan's job make this a slow process. The tradeoff, is having time at home to do things that need to be done, like putting up fences and overhauling the kitchen. We've talked, from time to time, about his going really "over the road," as in long haul driving where he'd be out three weeks at a time, and home for about three days. This is not our preferred lifestyle, but we've wondered if it would be worth it for a couple of years, to own our place free and clear.
One day on a whim, he applied to a flatbed and heavy haul trucking company based in Fort Worth, Texas. It would mean little home time, but it would also double his salary. If we were willing to make sacrifices, we truly had the potential to get our mortgage payed off, hopefully within two or so years.
They hired him within days and flew him to Ft. Worth for orientation. He was on the road in a week. His second week out he had severe pain in his leg and ankle. He could neither walk nor shift the big truck gears. The home office insisted he go to the emergency room, but stipulated he had to sign a form taking full responsibility to pay for it. Well, Dan didn't want to go to the emergency room. They insisted and he finally agreed to do it, but would only sign the form if he added "as required by my employer." They didn't want him to do that, so it got turned over to workers comp.
Since he was out on the road and couldn't drive, it took them a day or two to get him back to the home office. He was immediately called in to see the big boss, and let go. He was told he was rude to a few folks (who weren't available to corroborate) and that he wasn't a good fit for the company.
That was shocking enough, but the more immediate problem was that they fired him 1000 miles away from home. It wasn't just getting Dan home, but also all his gear. An over the road driver's tractor is his "home away from home." Truck stop prices are exorbitantly high, so most truckers have a plug in cooler or fridge, 12 volt cooker, food, supplies, bedding, clothes, tool box, first aid kit, etc to last their trip out. Though the company made a verbal offer to reimburse Dan for getting home, we were still faced with paying for it upfront. Paying for that left us with just enough money in the bank for upcoming bills, and that was it.
In addition, they stopped payment on his first paycheck, to revoke his sign-on bonus and orientation pay. Legally they can do this with a 90 day probationary status for new drivers. Between that and the $1000 it cost him to get home (which is still not reimbursed and we doubt will ever be) he netted $500 for three weeks of work. The good news was that his old company agreed to hire him back. The bad news is that it took two weeks to get through the hiring paperwork, plus it will be another two weeks before the first paycheck will arrive.
And that brings us to the topic at hand, preparedness. While we've never claimed to be preppers, doomers, or survivalists, we do realize that emergencies happen. These can be weather related, or as in our case, job related. It is common sense to be prepared for them. This situation really put our personal preparedness to the test.
Food. Thankfully, this is not a problem. We have growing garden, fresh eggs and milk, a front porch full of wheat needing to be threshed, a pantry full of canned goods, and a freezer full of homegrown chicken, chevon, fruits, and vegetables. We may have to make a few adjustments in our accustomed meals, but we can live without buying food.
Water. We're on city water and expect to not be late on any bills, so this is also not a worry. In the past we've had well water and kept water storage for when there was no electricity to power the electric pump.
Animals. I had just stocked up on feed, cat and dog food, so this wasn't an immediate worry. Plus being summer, there is plenty to graze and forage for the chickens and goats.
Bills. This is the biggest concern. After paying to get Dan home I still had enough to pay the upcoming bills, but I can see how I could have been better prepared in this area. The late Larry Burkett recommended keeping a 3 month reserve savings to cover bills and living expenses in such emergencies. I kept it at about a month's reserve for bills, using any extra to pay down on the principal of our mortgage. That meant we've been able to pay it down by $11,000 over three years (I never dreamed it was so much until now. Every little bit truly adds up!) This is our only debt, and I found myself wishing I'd kept the payments an extra month ahead, like I did when I used to have a car payment. Yes, I paid an extra month's interest, but also, I could skip a month if need be and still not be late on the next payment due.
The other thing I've learned is that life is considerably simpler when one doesn't have any money. There are no worries about spending our money wisely because there isn't any to spend, LOL.
I have to say that I'm thankful it wasn't worse. I'm thankful we had the funds to get Dan home. Still, it's made us evaluate our lives in a more urgent light. We've wondered from time to time how little we could actually live on, and this brings that question closer to home. While we realize that self-sufficiency in the strictest sense is not possible, we're able to appreciate how far we've come, and realize how far we have to go.